Minimalist EdTech


A frequent pain point with technology in the classroom, for me at least, is not being able to see clearly what students see when they use an edtech tool. It's fairly standard that there is a teacher or control interface and then a student interface. Where I might, if I were in control of a server or most other services, be able to create/manipulate/pose as a user of another type, that functionality to masquerade as a student seems always curtailed and limited in edtech products.

There are technical reasons why there are two views and often two divergent interfaces, but I wonder how much of this is driven by design assumptions as well and, more crucially, how much those design assumptions from outside the classroom are at odds with good pedagogical practices. Whether it is in exposing a minimal amount of control directly to teachers or in the seemingly innocuous (but actually quite mistaken and problematic) assumption that students need a different user experience than teachers, the dichotomy between what teachers see and what students causes all manner of grief.


photo: students today, serious about capitalist outcomes

Interrupting my otherwise pleasant pre-New Years holiday, I made the mistake of reading this piece, headlined “More info is available about which college majors pay off, but students aren’t using it”. The gist is that data tying specific majors to earning potential is now available but (sacre bleu!) students aren't using this data in order to select majors as much as the people making said data think they should.

I have a lot of objections to this piece, including the way that it jams together quotations in ways that demolish all nuance. But the biggest problem is in the way it makes you think that it somehow makes sense for students to see education solely as a pathway to a job and, further, that that job should be measured on the singular metric of salary.